Senator Panfilo Lacson found self-confessed witness, Edgar Matobato, wrong on two points. Lacson is chair of the secondary senate committee (public order and dangerous drugs) doing hearings on alleged extrajudicial killings together with the primary committee of Senator Leila de Lima.
Matobato claimed he was part of the kidnap and murder of a terrorist named Sali Makdum in 2002. He said he and five others brought Makdum to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) and murdered him at the “quarry.”
However, PNP chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa was once a PAOCTF officer but said he never heard of Matobato and Arthur Lascanas who was said to be DDS team leader.
Moreover, Senator Lacson himself, former PNP chief and former head of the PAOCTF, insisted that PAOCTF was already abolished in 2001 when Lacson became senator. “Wala nang PAOCTF noong 2002 kasi ako’y senador na nung 2001 at nawala na yung PAOCTF,” Lacson told the witness. (There was no more PAOCTF in 2002 because I became senator in 2001).
In addition, Lacson could not find anything on Sali Makdum on the internet. If he had been a threat or nuisance to Duterte during those times, he would have made some news at least in the local scene. But Lacson said he didn’t see anything. “Kanina pa ako Google nang Google kay Sali Makdum … gigil na gigil na ako wala akong makita. Baka non-existent yan,” Lacson said. (I’ve been trying to search about Sali Makdum on Google, really eager to find something on him, but didn’t. Maybe he is non-existent).
Later, De Lima revealed that she had information about PAOCTF’s continued existence despite Lacson’s exit from the PNP then.
“Even after the exit of Senator Ping Lacson, the information that I got was that PAOCTF existed and the office [was] supposedly in Malacañang and that we can actually verify whether there are records or operations of arrest in 2002 or 2003,” De Lima, chair of the senate committee on justice and human rights, assured.
Another thing Senator Lacson doubted about Matobato was his statement about the murder of billionaire businessman Richard King. Matobato claimed that Joel Tapales and Loloi Gabas, rebel returnees, were paid half a million to shoot King (these two gunmen, however, were also found dead later). He said King was killed in a fastfood store, when in fact, King was shot inside his Vital-C office in Cebu.
“So mali yung kwento ninyo … yan sinabi ko eh, mag testify under oath pero mali,” Lacson told Matobato. (So, your story is false. That’s what I said, testifying under oath and yet giving false testimony).
Lacson had earlier warned Matobato about the seriousness of testifying before a Senate hearing.
“Hindi ito biro-biro kasi puwede kayong makulong. Binalaan kayo ng chairperson na ang sasabihin ninyo [ay] under oath, wala pa naman kayong immunity,” Lacson had warned Matabato. (This is no joke. You could be arrested and jailed [if found to be lying]. The chairperson warned you that your statement is under oath. You have no immunity).